Gingrich: One web video, two false claims
In a long expected announcement on May 11, 2011, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., used a web video to broadcast his intention to run for president. But his carefully crafted video fell short factually, as we found two claims that earned a rating of False from the Truth-O-Meter.
Gingrich promoted his credentials by touting a list of accomplishments in his four years as House Speaker, which began in January 1995 and ended in January 1999.
Those accomplishments included cutting unemployment. "Unemployment came down from 5.6 percent to under 4," Gingrich said.
However, we found that the unemployment rate didn’t fall below 4 percent until September 2000, which was 21 months after Gingrich's departure from the House. The lowest the unemployment rate fell during Gingrich’s time as speaker was in April 1998, when it was 4.3 percent. We rated this claim False.
At another point in the video, Gingrich said that "for four years, we balanced the budget and paid off $405 billion in debt."
He was right that the federal government did run four consecutive surpluses, but for the last two of those -- fiscal years 2000 and 2001 -- Gingrich was no longer serving in the House.
Meanwhile, the national debt was slightly above $4.8 trillion when Gingrich became House speaker in January 1995. By the time he left the position in January 1999, the debt was more than $5.6 trillion. That’s an increase, not a decrease. So we rated this claim False.